FARGO — Despite a doubling of COVID-19 cases in Cass County in the past week, the Fargo City Commission cited recent positive signs in their reasoning to end the city's emergency pandemic declaration as of Tuesday, April 6.

The unanimous vote to end the declaration came exactly one year after it was put in place. It paved the way for measures such as the city's mask mandate and shutdowns of bars and restaurants during the past year.

Mayor Tim Mahoney said if needed, he could reinstate the emergency with a majority vote of the commission.

With the ending of the declaration, the question came up as to whether the city can continue allowing alcoholic drinks to be served with takeout meals.

Commissioner Tony Gehrig thought the policy should be made permanent, while Commissioner John Strand said he would like to hear more about the successes or failures of the program from various departments. It was decided to discuss the issue at the next meeting.

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Despite the rising COVID-19 numbers, Mahoney said vaccine distribution was going well and that there may even be more vaccine available than the number of residents seeking shots. All North Dakotans age 16 and older are now eligible for the vaccine, and walk-in shots are available at local vaccine clinics, with some offering extended evening hours.

Fargo Cass Public Health Director Desi Fleming said 49% of Cass County residents had received at least one vaccine dose as of Monday, with 31.7% fully vaccinated.

Fleming said there had been a stretch of about 10 days without any deaths in Cass County, although one was reported on Tuesday.

In addition, Mahoney said he looked at coronavirus loads from wastewater monitoring that's being done statewide. In the city, he said such loads were down 8% in the past few days.

The mayor also said they had talked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and that the city wouldn't lose any pandemic relief aid by ending the emergency declaration.

Anyone who wants to provide input on the takeout liquor issue is asked to call the City Commission office at 701-241-1310 or visit https://fargond.gov/city-government/departments/city-commission/contact-us.